We all look for inspiration from our preferred purveyors of style, but nobody wants to be told what to wear. The very definition of personal style is that it’s exactly that; an expression of personal taste and the physical manifestation of your own creativity, not to mention the carefully curated message you want to communicate to the world. Having said which, we’re about to tell you what to wear. It’s ok, we can hear your protestations from here, but bear with us because this is big. This is about an item so unbelievably life-changing that if we didn’t tell you to introduce it to your wardrobe immediately, we wouldn’t be doing our job. Perish the thought.
You might equate the paperbag waist with 80s power dressing, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But hang on- what’s that we saw on the SS16 catwalks? Oh right, an 80s extravaganza- sleeveless bikers, prom skirts n’all. But lest you think you’re reading a run-of-the-mill trend report (as if), let us just say that when it comes to these trousers, this is about anything but a flash-in-the-pan fad.
Let’s go back to the beginning just for a second. Just to clarify, paperbag waist trousers are always high waisted, with excess material at the top. The likes of Public School, Tome, Tibi and 3.1 Phillip Lim ensured that PB trews (as we’re now affectionately calling them) were the talk of everyone’s post-show reports, heralding the return of this rather tricky waistline.
Since then, we’ve seen these strides trickle into high street shops, and still we weren’t wholly convinced. Then, we saw Gigi Hadid wearing a pair of cream, baggy, cropped PB trousers (we know, what a combo) and thought that perhaps we should all reconsider. And look! Karlie Kloss and Olivia Munn have also been flaunting the power of the PB waist. Who are we to argue with such A-list influencers?
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Now, we have to tell you that it’s not just the supermodels and actresses of this world who look good in these trousers. Actually, that’s kind of the whole point of this article; while you might recoil in horror at the sight of the excess fabric and high-waist placement, these trews actually look good on everyone. Including, dear readers, the writer of this very article.
In terms of making this work, it’s really quite simple. Just obey by the golden rule of tight on top. While that phrase conjures up images of the Real Housewives, please do avoid that particular aesthetic at all costs. Instead, opt for very fine knits or tailored, slinky blouses tucked into your trousers. Or, if your abs are enrolled in the Gigi Hadid school of body parts, then by all means rock a crop top. A long sleeve is always a great way to balance out the flash of skin.
If you’re taller, Karlie Kloss is your gal. Without realising it (or maybe she does? Maybe she knows exactly what she’s doing?) the supermodel is giving us all a masterclass in the PB waist; baggy pants, trainers, a vest (see- tight on top! In a good way!) and classic trench. A true hero. In other news, if you’re petite a tapered pair of trousers with heeled mules is your jam, while curvier bodies suit wide leg trousers with pointed heels. We’d also like to take this moment to recommend a belt. Some styles might not work with one, but if they do, make sure it’s a thin belt. You don’t want to add bulk. Imagine the horror.
In the business of being helpful, we’ve even found some PB waists for you to try, should you decide that this article has not only been extremely helpful to you, but also inspirational. Personal favourites include Topshop’s pinstripe trousers, Lavish Alice’s blue pair and Urban Outfitter’s slouchy stripes.
Aren’t you glad you read this, after all?